BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Technical Field
The invention relates generally to gaming machines. More particularly, the invention relates to a gaming machine of the type generally known as a slot machine. Specifically, the invention relates to a slot-style gaming machine having combinable paylines and various other novel features.
2. Background Information
Gaming machines come in a wide variety, including the category generally known as slot machines. Slot machines or slot-style gaming machines typically include physical reels which spin or electronically created reels which are displayable on a video screen and appear to spin vertically. The electronically created reels which appear on a video screen are controlled by a computer program which makes it appear that a reel is spinning and the player of the game is viewing a portion of the outer circumference of a physical reel. A typical slot machine includes three reels each having a plurality of symbols thereon which align with the symbols in the other reels when the reels are stopped to form rows or lines. It is well known in the art that paylines are formed of like symbols and of one of said like symbols in each reel aligned across all of the reels. The most common paylines extend straight horizontally across the screen although this may vary.
Especially in light of today's relatively advanced computerized games, there is a need in the art to provide slot-style gaming machines which have a greater attraction factor for those more well-versed in modern video games. Thus, features on the video screen which are more engaging will be valuable in attracting such players and keeping them interested in the game. Amongst such features are alternate ways of creating winning paylines. The present invention addresses this and other concerns in the art.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
An apparatus comprising: a video display screen; a game playable via display on the screen; a wager mechanism for making a wager on the game; a game play starter control for selectively initiating play of the game; a first pay line displayable on the screen; at least one value-adding symbol randomly displayable on the screen; and a pay-related event activatable in response to appearance of the value-adding symbol on the screen.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic front elevational view of the gaming machine of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is an enlarged perspective view of the video screen with the game displayed thereon in the jackpot configuration.
FIG. 3 is similar to FIG. 2 and shows each of the paylines highlighted by the perimeter accents.
FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 3 and shows each of the rings in an initial stage of shuffling.
FIG. 5 is similar to FIG. 4 and shows the rings in a subsequent stage of shuffling.
FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 5 and shows the rings with symbols in the reshuffled position.
FIG. 7 is similar to FIG. 6 and shows the spinning of the rings.
FIG. 8 is similar to FIG. 7 and shows the rings after they have stopped spinning with three winning paylines highlighted by the perimeter accents and moved radially outwardly.
FIG. 9 is similar to the previous Figs. and represents a new play of the game in which the accents are shown spiraling in to highlight two winning paylines and the scarab combining symbol having moved to the center of the rings to combine the two winning paylines and to effect a bonus round.
FIG. 10 is similar to FIG. 9 and shows all of the symbol blocks and associated symbols moving radially outwardly and the columns moving laterally off the screen.
FIG. 11 is similar to FIG. 10 and shows the symbols at a further stage of moving off the screen with the ring frame moving downwardly off the screen and the appearance of three pyramids on the screen.
FIG. 12 is similar to FIG. 11 and shows all of the visuals from the main game removed from the screen with the three pyramids and a caption associated with the bonus round.
FIG. 13 shows the ring frame, columns and symbol blocks and symbols moving back onto the screen.
FIG. 14 shows the scarab combining symbol having moved to the center block to effect a jackpot scenario with all the paylines in a winning configuration and the rings beginning to spin.
FIG. 15 is similar to FIG. 14 and shows the rings in an initial stage of flipping while continuing to spin.
FIG. 16 is similar to FIG. 15 and shows a subsequent stage of the rings flipping while continuing to spin.
FIG. 17 shows the rings having stopped spinning and flipping in the jackpot configuration with each of the paylines moved radially outwardly a short distance.
FIG. 18 is similar to FIG. 17 and shows several paylines having moved radially inwardly to their home positions and highlighted by respective perimeter accents while a perimeter accent spirals inwardly and moves toward a position of highlighting another payline while the remaining paylines are still disposed radially outwardly from their home positions.
FIG. 19 shows all of the paylines in their home positions and highlighted by perimeter accents.
FIG. 20 shows one configuration of the rings with four non-contiguous blocks of the middle ring highlighted by perimeter accents wherein each of the highlighted blocks contains dissimilar symbols to illustrate a distinctive payline or an activator set of symbols.
FIG. 21 is similar to FIG. 20 and shows a different configuration of the rings in which three contiguous symbol blocks in the inner ring are highlighted by perimeter accents wherein each highlighted block contains a like symbol to illustrate another distinctive payline or activator set of symbols.
FIG. 22 is similar to FIG. 21 and shows another configuration of the rings in which one of the symbol blocks in each of the inner, middle and outer rings is highlighted by a perimeter accent wherein the highlighted blocks are contiguous and the symbols therein are like symbols which are distinct from the other symbols used in formation of the standard paylines, thus illustrating another distinctive payline or activator set of symbols.
Similar numbers refer to similar parts throughout the drawings.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The gaming machine of the present invention is indicated generally at 10 in FIG. 1. Gaming machine 10 is a slot machine or a slot-style machine comprising a frame 12 with a video display screen 14 mounted thereon for displaying various images, symbols and alpha-numeric characters. Machine 10 includes an internal computer or central processing unit (CPU) mounted within frame 12 for running a computer program which is programmed to operate the game of the present invention to be played on machine 10. A coin head or slot 16 may be mounted on frame 12 for inputting coins which may be used for directly making a wager or for crediting an amount with which wagers may be made. Similarly, a bill slot or credit slot, each of which is indicated generally at 18, may be mounted on frame 12 for the same purpose. A coin tray 20 may be mounted on frame 12 to receive a payout of coins although other payout mechanisms may be utilized. For example, a payout may be tracked by the computer and displayed on screen 14 and may be paid out, for instance, at any location within a casino which houses machine 10. Remote play of the game is also contemplated so that additional components associated with such play is within the scope of the invention.
A bet up/down button 22A or a similar mechanism is mounted on frame 12 to allow the player to increase or decrease the amount of bet or wager on the game. A play button 24A or the like serves as a game play starter control and may be pressed or otherwise operated by the player to play the game after a wager has been made. A pay table button 26A may be used to display the pay table on screen 14. A touch sensitive screen may also be used to create such buttons on screen 14.
For example, FIG. 2 shows an alternate touch sensitive bet up/down touch area 22B, a game play touch area 24B and a pay table display touch area 26B. Areas 22B and 24B are shown on a right column 28 while touch area 26B is shown on a left column 30. A ring frame 32 is positioned between columns 28 and 30. Also located on right column 28 are a line select touch area 34, a help touch area 36 and an exit game touch area 38. On left column 30 are information blocks 40A and 40B used for the display of alphabetical and numerical information. For instance, block 40A may be used to display the amount bet and amount paid. Block 40B may be used to indicate the number of paylines selected by the use of line select touch area 34, the number of bets or games that have been played, the amount of credit available, the amount of a jackpot win and so forth. Ring frame 32 includes a title block 42 in which the title of the game may be displayed and an additional information block 44 which may display the amount won or any various information as desired.
Ring frame 32 (FIG. 2) has a circular inner perimeter 46 which defines a circular opening 48 which is shown substantially covered or closed in FIG. 2 by a combination of a center block 50, an inner ring 52, an intermediate or middle ring 54 and an outer ring 56. These annular rings are substantially circular and concentric about the center of block 50 or a point on block 50 and arranged so that inner ring 52 circumscribes block 50, middle ring 54 circumscribes ring 52 and outer ring 56 circumscribes middle ring 54.
Inner ring 52 includes twelve symbol display locations or inner blocks 58. Likewise, middle ring 54 includes twelve display locations or middle blocks 60 and outer ring 56 includes twelve display locations or outer blocks 62. Inner ring 52 abuts and is separated from inner block 50 by a generally circular perimeter or boundary line 64. Similarly, middle ring 54 abuts and is separated from inner ring 52 by a circular middle perimeter or boundary line 66, and outer ring 56 abuts and is separated from middle ring 54 by a circular outer perimeter or boundary line 68. In general, each of the blocks 50, 58, 60 and 62 have edges that appear to be beveled. Thus, the boundary lines noted above are at the abutment of various beveled edges of these blocks. Outer ring 56 has a circular outer perimeter 69.
The three rings 52, 54 and 56 form twelve paylines 70 each formed by the alignment of one inner block 58, one middle block 60 and one outer block 62, the middle block of each payline being in a contiguous relationship with the inner and center blocks of that payline. Rings 52, 54 and 56 thus serve as specialized reels which provide for the formation of unique paylines and other unique characteristics. Each pair of adjacent paylines 70 abuts and is separated from one another by a radial boundary line 72 which extends radially outwardly from block 50 on a straight radius. Each adjacent pair of lines 72 defines therebetween an acute angle of 30 degrees. While this angle may vary depending on the number of paylines, the angle will typically be an acute angle less than 90 degrees. Each payline is generally V-shaped or U-shaped and has an outer perimeter defined by a pair of adjacent radial boundary lines 72, an arc 74 of outer perimeter 69 extending between the two adjacent radial boundary lines 72 and a segment 76 of inner boundary line 64 which extends between the two adjacent radial boundary lines 72. Thus, each outer block 62 is generally arc-shaped and has an outer perimeter formed by a respective pair of segments 78 of lines 72, one of arcs 74 extending therebetween and an arc 80 of boundary line 68 extending between the adjacent pair of lines 72. Each middle block 60 has a shape similar to outer block 62 except that it is smaller. Each inner block 58 is also similarly shaped except that it is likewise smaller and its inner perimeter is bounded by one of the shallow V-shaped segments 76.
FIG. 2 shows the game in a jackpot configuration in which all twelve paylines 70 are winning paylines. More particularly, each payline 70 includes three like symbols in its respective symbol blocks 58, 60 and 62. FIG. 2 shows twelve different symbol families each comprising three symbols which are substantially identical to one another except for their size. For example, one symbol family includes symbols 82A, 82B and 82C which sequentially increase in size and are in the form of a wolf or dog's head. All of the symbol families follow this size pattern. More particularly, the remaining symbol families include symbols 83A-C in the form of a cat; symbols 84A-C in the form of a snake such as a cobra; symbols 85A-C in the form of a sword or dagger; symbols 86A-C in the form of a bird's head; symbols 87A-C in the form of a key; symbols 88A-C in the form of a mummy's head; symbols 89A-C in the form of an Egyptian king's head or the head of a sarcophagus; symbols 90A-C in the form of a pyramid; symbols 91A-C in the form of a stylized Egyptian queen's head; symbols 92A-C in the form of a sarcophagus; and symbols 93A-C in the form of a scorpion.
To operate machine 10, credit is obtained by inserting coins into slot 16 (FIG. 1), inserting a bill or sliding a card via slot 18 or the like. The amount of the wager is selected using one of buttons or touch areas 22. The number of paylines is selected using line selector 34. Each time selector 34 is touched or actuated, a payline indicator or highlighter appears in the form of a perimeter accent 94. Accents 94 are typically of a color which is different from the background color of blocks 58, 60 and 62. Each perimeter accent 94 is a generally V-shaped or U-shaped line which appears along the outer perimeter of a given payline 70. More particularly, each accent 94 includes a pair of radially extending lines 96 (FIG. 3) and a shallow V-shaped segment 98 which is disposed adjacent and mimics segment 76 of inner boundary line 64 and the circumferentially extending portion of the outer perimeter of the payline 70 which is highlighted by accent 94. While any number of the paylines may be selected, the perimeter accents 94 in FIG. 3 show that all of the paylines have been selected to increase the chances of a winning payline.
Play of a game is begun by depressing or touching the play button or touch area 24, which results in the shuffling of blocks 58, 60 and 62 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. More particularly, FIG. 4 shows an initial stage of the shuffling which occurs as all or some of the symbol blocks and symbols move along the circular path of the respective ring to revolve about center block 50. The shuffling process presents a modified version of spinning the symbols and symbol blocks. Each of rings 52, 54 and 56 illustrate a different aspect of the shuffling process. Within inner ring 52, a lead block 58A remains in place while the other symbols blocks 58 move circumferentially along an arcuate or circular path as indicated at arrow A to slide over the symbol blocks in front of it to cover it partially. At the stage shown in FIG. 4, a trailing symbol block 58B with symbol 82A thereon is fully visible, while the remaining symbol blocks 58 are partially covered respectively by the various other symbol blocks 58 and symbols thereon.
With continued reference to FIG. 4, the symbol blocks 60 and the associated symbols in middle ring 54 likewise move circumferentially along an arcuate or circular path in a clockwise direction as indicated at arrow B. However, unlike the blocks in inner ring 52, blocks 60 slide under one another so that a lead block 60A remains completely visible while the trailing block 60B is partially hidden by the block in front of it and so forth. While the lead blocks 58A and 60A of respective rings 52 and 54 are shown in a stationary position, they may also move circumferentially along the circular path during the shuffling process. The movement of blocks 62 in outer ring 56 show a somewhat different shuffling pattern. During the shuffling of outer blocks 62 and the associated symbols, the outer ring is broken into three arcs or segments 56A, 56B and 56C, the blocks 62 of which move circumferentially in a clockwise direction on a circular path as indicated respectively at arrows C, D and E. Segment 56A thus has a leading block 62A and a trailing block 62B; segment 56B has leading block 62C and a trailing block 62D circumferentially spaced from leading block 62A with no block or symbol therebetween; and segment 56C has a leading block 62E and a trailing block 62F. Block 62E is circumferentially spaced from trailing block 62B with no block or symbol therebetween, and blocks 62F and 62C are in an analogous relationship. Each block 62 within a given segment 56A, B or C slides behind or underneath the blocks 62 in front of it to be covered or hidden thereby.
This shuffle process may be thought of as the opening and closing of three circular fans represented by rings 52, 54 and 56 wherein the fans are in a fully open position in FIG. 3, are in partially open positions in FIG. 4 and moving toward a closed position which is represented in particular in FIG. 5 by middle ring 52. More particularly, all of blocks 58 within ring 52 have been shuffled under one another so that only trailing block 58B remains visible in the position originally held by block 58A in FIGS. 3 and 4.
FIG. 5 further shows that the blocks 60 of middle ring 54 have passed the fully closed position and have shuffled or fanned out from behind block 60A to a partially open fan position. Thus, various of the blocks 60 and associated symbols have moved past other blocks 60. It is noted that block 60A at the stage shown in FIG. 4 is the leading block of ring 54 while in FIG. 5 block 60A has become the trailing block as a new lead block 60C and the remaining blocks 60 have shuffled or fanned outwardly from under block 60A. It is further noted that middle ring 54 is not necessarily shown at a stage corresponding to that of inner ring 52 so that various stages may be shown in a single figure of the drawings.
FIG. 5 also shows a further stage of shuffling or fanning of the segments 56A, 56B and 56C of the outer ring. More particularly, FIG. 5 shows that the blocks 62 of segment 56A have moved beyond the fully closed position and begun to emerge from behind block 62A, which was formerly the lead block of segment 56A and has become the trailing block thereof. Block 62C of segment 56B in FIG. 5 represents the fully closed fan segment position with all of the associated blocks 62 having moved behind block 62C, which is thus the only block displayed in segment 56B. Fan segment 56C is shown in a partially open position which has not yet reached a fully closed position and with block 62F still partially shown from behind block 62E.
FIG. 6 shows each of the rings in the fully fanned position subsequent to the shuffling process, which changed the order of the symbols within the respective rings. At this stage, none of paylines 70 is a winning payline. However, the movement of rings 52, 54 and 56 has not been completed at the stage shown in FIG. 6. Nonetheless, FIG. 6 does show three symbol families which will become winning paylines in FIG. 8. More particularly, FIG. 6 points out the symbol family including symbols 83A-C, the symbol family including symbols 89A-C and the symbol family including symbols 90A-C. FIG. 7 shows the next stage of the game in which inner and outer rings 52 and 56 spin or rotate clockwise as shown respectively at arrows F and G while middle ring 54 spins or rotates counterclockwise as shown at arrow H. Each of the rings, symbol blocks and symbols thus revolves around center block 50, moving along the inner and outer perimeters of the respective rings. The spinning and shuffling processes illustrate that unlike a standard computerized slot game in which the reels and symbols thereon move in a straight line, the symbols, symbol blocks and rings of the present invention move in a first direction on the screen and a second direction transverse thereto. This may occur even if the circular rings were replaced by another shape, typically a closed loop such as an oval, square, rectangle, triangle, pentagon, hexagon or other polygon. The revolving movement of the symbols and symbol blocks will work with an endless variety of shapes.
When the spinning of the rings is completed, the symbols are positioned as shown in FIG. 8. In this case, three paylines 70 are shown as winning paylines as indicated by the attachment of perimeter accents 94 thereto and the movement of each winning payline radially outwardly a short distance from its home position as indicated at arrows J, which separates it from an adjacent pair of paylines 70 and block 50. For each winning payline, a given award value is awarded to the player, for instance three times the bet amount. This amount may be paid out at coin tray 20 (FIG. 1) or simply credited to the player's account, which may be displayed on screen 14 within information block 40B for instance.
In accordance with a feature of the invention and with reference to FIG. 9, a combining mechanism in the form of a scarab combining symbol 100 is used to combine two or more paylines or to otherwise effect a win pattern change or pay-related event. To reach the stage illustrated in FIG. 9, the previously described steps are followed except for the appearance or display of winning paylines which are not combined, such as those shown in FIG. 8. Thus, once the spinning of the rings previously described with reference to FIG. 7 is completed, combining symbol 100 is displayed on screen 14, moving from off the screen to a location in the center of block 50 as indicated by arrow K. Block 50 provides a display location for symbol 100 which is distinct or separate from the display locations for the symbols used in making up paylines. The combining of the two winning paylines 70 is indicated or highlighted by the spinning of symbol 100 and block 50 in a clockwise direction as shown at arrow L, by the attachment of perimeter accents 94 to the winning paylines and by the radially outward movement of the winning paylines as indicated at arrows M. The payline combining process is also accentuated or emphasized by the movement of perimeter accents 94 from respective unattached positions to their respective attached positions shown in FIG. 9. More particularly, one of the accents is indicated at 94A and the other is indicated at 94B, each of which spirals inwardly in a clockwise direction onto the screen as indicated by arrows N and the various representations of the perimeter accents in dot dash lines.
The payline combining process caused by the appearance of symbol 100 is a value adding step of the game. More particularly, while the appearance of the winning paylines 70 shown in FIG. 9 would ordinarily result in an award value which is the sum of the value of the two paylines, combining symbol 100 causes the total value to increase to an amount greater than that sum. Thus, for example, combining symbol 100 combines the two paylines in a manner which would result in an award value of ten times the bet amount.
In addition, the appearance of symbol 100 initiates a bonus round or bonus play. To reach the bonus screen and with reference to FIG. 10, the various symbol blocks 58, 60 and 62 move radially outwardly as indicated at arrows P to change the distance between the various blocks to thus separate from one another while columns 28 and 30 move laterally off of (or to the outermost edge on screen 14 respectively to the right and left as indicated at arrows Q and R. As the various symbol blocks move radially outwardly off of screen 14 in a linear fashion, they uncover opening 48 of ring frame 32. As this movement occurs, block 50 and symbol 100 continue to rotate clockwise as indicated at arrow L in FIG. 10.
FIG. 11 shows that columns 28 and 30 are completely removed from screen 14, that the symbol blocks are in a further stage of moving off of the screen and that ring frame 32 is moving downwardly as indicated at arrow S toward a position off of the screen. In addition, symbol 100 moves upwardly as indicated at arrow T towards a position off the screen while it rotates counterclockwise as indicated at arrow U. Block 50 moves laterally and downwardly as indicated at arrow V while it continues to rotate clockwise as indicated at arrow L. FIG. 11 also shows the appearance of three pyramids 102A-C associated with the bonus play. Although not shown in FIG. 10, pyramids 102 typically initially appear within opening 48 as the symbol blocks are beginning to move radially outwardly and separating from one another.
As shown in FIG. 12, a caption 104 appears on screen 14 to direct the player of the game as to how to proceed. Caption 104 in the exemplary embodiment states “Touch a pyramid to win your bonus”. Typically, the game includes additional bonus screens having different symbols which the player may touch or otherwise activate in order to win a bonus value.
When the bonus play is over, the various visual elements of the main game begin to appear on screen 14 again as shown in FIG. 13. More particularly, columns 28 and 30 move laterally inwardly as indicated at arrows W, reel frame 32 is moved vertically upward as indicated at arrow X and the various symbol blocks move radially inwardly in a sequential manner as indicated at arrows Y. At the stage shown in FIG. 13, all of the symbol blocks 58 of ring 52 have returned to their home positions while only four of the symbol blocks 60 of middle ring 54 have returned to their home positions. As the symbol blocks return to their home positions in sequential order, block 60D will be the next block to move to its home position, followed in sequential order by blocks 60E, 60F, 60G and so forth until all the blocks 60 return to their home positions. Likewise, blocks 62 subsequently return sequentially with block 62G being the first to return to its home position followed by block 62H and so forth.
A jackpot win is now described with reference to FIGS. 14-19. Game play begins in the standard fashion and proceeds with the shuffling steps previously described with reference to FIGS. 4-6. However, combining symbol 100 appears on the screen so that instead of the various symbols appearing in a random fashion as shown in FIG. 6, the symbols appear on the various symbol blocks so that all paylines 70 are winning paylines as shown in FIG. 14. Symbol 100 has been previously described as combining two or more paylines to create an added value. However, symbol 100 may also be used to create paylines, such as one or both of those shown in FIG. 9, as well as all of the paylines as shown in FIG. 14.
Once symbol 100 has caused all the symbols to move into the jackpot configuration with all paylines in a winning configuration, each of rings 52, 54 and 56 begin to spin clockwise as indicated by arrows Z, A1 and B1 respectively. This rotation of the three rings and all the previous movements described herein have the appearance of occurring within the plane defined by screen 14. However, this changes as shown in FIGS. 15 and 16. More particularly, inner ring 52 and outer ring 56 begin to flip about a horizontal axis X1 which lies in the plane of screen 14 while middle ring 54 flips about a vertical axis Y1 which is also in the plane of screen 14. More particularly, inner ring 52 and outer ring 56 flip about axis X1 in opposite directions. This is illustrated in FIG. 15 in that the top 106 of inner ring 52 has moved rearwardly away from the viewer while the bottom 108 has moved forward. In contrast, the top 110 of outer ring 56 is moved forward while the bottom 112 of outer ring 56 is moved rearwardly.
As each of the rings are flipping as described, each ring continues to rotate as shown by arrows Z, A1 and B1 in FIG. 15. At this point, it is noted that rings 52, 54 and 56 have respective front sides 114,116 and 118 which generally face the player of the game while having the appearance of being angled due to the initial stage of flipping the rings shown in FIG. 15. Likewise, the rings have respective back sides 120, 122 and 124 which are shown in FIG. 16, which illustrates a later stage in the flipping of the rings which has exposed these back sides. The various symbols flip with the rings from the position in FIG. 15 in which we see the front of the symbols to the position in FIG. 16 in which we see the rear side of the symbols, which causes the symbols to appear in a reversed configuration. During the flipping process, the rings continue to rotate as indicated at arrows Z, A1 and B1 in FIG. 16, which appear to be opposite to the corresponding arrows in FIG. 15 but are so only due to the fact that the rings have flipped over. Thus, the winning of the jackpot is accentuated by the rotation of the rings and flipping of the rings.
The rings stop flipping at the jackpot configuration and the winning pay lines 70 then move radially outward as indicated at arrows Cl in FIG. 17, which further accentuates the jackpot win. This radially outward movement causes the paylines to separate from one another. With each of the winning paylines 70 spaced radially outwardly from its home position, perimeter accents 94 begin to spiral inwardly onto screen 14 and attach to respective paylines 70 in a sequential manner (FIG. 18). Thus, accent 94C attaches to payline 70A first, then accent 94D attaches to payline 70B, then accent 94E attaches to payline 70C and accent 94F attaches to payline 70D. Each of said accents spiral inwardly as is shown at arrow D1 with regard to accents 94G in the dot dash lines to a position shown by accent 94G in solid lines above payline 70E. Payline 70E moves inwardly as indicated at arrow E1 to its home position and then accent 94G likewise moves radially inwardly as indicated at arrow E1 to attach to payline 70E. Payline 70F will then move to its home position and an additional accent which spirals inwardly will attach to payline 70F and so forth with payline 70G next and the remainder in sequential order so that all of the winning paylines 70 have a perimeter accent 94 attached thereto as shown in FIG. 19. Symbol 100 has thus far been described as adding value by combining paylines in a manner that increases the award value and by creating one or more paylines to increase the award value which may include the formation of a jackpot configuration. Symbol 100 may also be used to effect a wager increase option in which the player of the game may increase the wager amount so that a win will produce a greater award value. One option along these lines is the playing of a first game having a first set of award values wherein symbol 100 appears on the screen to grant access to the play of a second game having a second set of award values which are respectively greater than the first set of award values. Symbol 100 may also cause a progressive stage of play in which the jackpot amount increases with each play until won.
FIGS. 20-22 show three different configurations of the rings to illustrate either distinctive paylines or activator symbol sets which serve the same purpose as symbol 100 as previously discussed. FIG. 20 shows four non-contiguous middle blocks 60A-D of middle ring 54 highlighted respectively by perimeter accents 126A-D. Dissimilar symbols 93B, 83B, 87B and 84B are respectively shown within these four blocks 60A-D. This pattern or configuration may illustrate a distinctive payline in which the symbols are non-contiguous or separate from one another or may illustrate an activator symbol set which functions in the same manner as symbol 100. To further define the concept of being non-contiguous, block 60A and symbol 93B are used as an example. The symbol blocks and symbols associated therewith which are contiguous to block 60A and symbol 93B are inner blocks 58A, 58B, and 58C, middle blocks 60F and 60G, and outer blocks 62A, 62B, and 62C as shown in FIG. 20. All of the other symbol blocks and associated symbols are non-contiguous with block 60A and symbol 93B. The other highlighted blocks and symbols follow the same pattern. Thus, the payline formed by these four non-contiguous symbols illustrates a payline in which first and second symbols are within the payline but none of the symbols or symbol blocks which are contiguous with the first symbol are within the payline. FIG. 20 further illustrates that none of the symbols or blocks contiguous to any of the highlighted blocks are part of the payline. The highlighted blocks also illustrate a regular pattern of every third symbol within ring 54 being in the payline although irregular configurations may also be used. While each of the symbols of the payline in FIG. 20 are located within middle ring 54, they may be located in any of the suitable positions within rings 52, 54 and 56.
FIG. 21 shows inner blocks 58D-F highlighted respectively by perimeter accents 128A-C with like or similar symbols 91 Al, 91 A2 and 91 A3 respectively in said blocks. FIG. 21 thus represents a payline formed of three similar symbols and symbol blocks within a single ring 52 with block 58E being contiguous to blocks 58D and 58F as are the associated symbols. As previously noted, the highlighted symbol blocks and symbols may represent a payline or an activator symbol set.
FIG. 22 shows an inner block 58G highlighted by a perimeter accent 130A, a middle block 60H contiguous to block 58G highlighted by a perimeter accent 130B and an outer block 62D highlighted by a perimeter accent 130C. Special like or similar symbols 132A-C are positioned in block 58G, 60H and 62D respectively. Symbols 132 are in the form of a pair of columns or torches which maintain the thematic association with the other symbols. However, symbols 132 are different from those previously shown and illustrate that such different symbols may be used in forming a distinctive payline or activator symbol set.
The computer program of gaming machine 10 is programmed to produce the display blocks 58, 60 and 62 on screen 14. The computer program includes a symbol code pool having a plurality of symbol codes each of which represents one of symbols 82-93 (FIG. 2). For each play of the game, the computer program randomly selects thirty-six of the symbol codes which cause a respective thirty-six of the symbols 82-93 (or other symbols) to appear respectively in blocks 58, 60, and 62 on screen 14. Thus, the symbol code pool has a given number of symbol codes which is greater than the number of blocks 58, 60 and 62 combined. This aspect of the computer program allows for the display of a payline such as that shown in FIG. 21 which includes a plurality of the same symbols within a single ring, amongst many other possibilities.
Gaming machine 10 thus provides a variety of new aspects to a slot style game. The use of a value adding symbol such as symbol 100 or an activator symbol set as discussed with reference FIGS. 20-22 may cause various value adding changes to the game. For instance, the activating symbol may combine paylines, create paylines, provide for a wager increase option or bonus rounds and so forth. In addition, the use of the rings which may be circular or other shapes provide for unique configurations and movements on the video screen. These include the shuffling process, the rotating or revolving of the symbols and rings, the flipping of the rings, the movement of individual paylines or symbol blocks relative to the others and so forth. The various novel features of gaming machine 10 add to its ability to attract players to the game.
In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.
Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.